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'Old folk forced out'

Wednesday, 25th May, 2011

Family says 18 to go from hospital

By Darrin Manuel

Up to 18 elderly people could be transferred from the hospital to regional aged care facilities, according the family of a local patient.

Sheree Quinn said her grandmother, Sarah Copland, was one of a handful of patients who have recently been marked for relocation due to a shortage of beds at the hospital.

Ms Copland, 90, suffers from mild dementia and epilepsy, and has been waiting for placement in a low care facility. She has since been informed that she will be moved to Wilcannia.

"I've been told the Wilcannia facility is lovely, and I'm sure it is, but it's two hours away. It's just too far," said Ms Quinn.

She said she was told by hospital officials of the plan to relocate 18 locals, and was troubled by the thought of so many people being forced away from their home town.

She said a solution must be found swiftly.

"I can understand their view and that the hospital is for acute care, but what do we do? Just shun these people? They were born and bred in Broken Hill.

"It's been a problem in Broken Hill for a long time and I just feel this is something that really needs to be addressed immediately.

"And it's not just about my grandmother, it's everyone. We all have to jump on the bandwagon. The louder we yell, hopefully it will get something done."

The local branch of the Labor Party said they shared local families' concerns, especially given that patients could be moved as far away as Balranald.

"We've never been in favour of it, sending people away. We've always been opposed to it for the obvious reasons," said local Labor Vice President Graeme Reville.

"Being sent to Wilcania would be worse than (relocating) to South Australia really, and there's been some mention of Balranald as well - that's really stupid.

"It's something we don't need. The elderly people have spent their whole lives here. We don't want to be sending them away for the remaining years of their life."

A spokesman for the hospital would not confirm that up to 18 patients would be transferred from the city, but said that discussions with patients would be ongoing.

"We are in the process of talking to a number of aged care patients about being placed for care in another facility," the spokesman said.

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